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Crawford & Company (NYSE:CRD.B)

Q2 2013 Earnings Call

August 5, 2013, 3:00 PM ET

Executives

Allen Nelson - Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer

Jeffrey Bowman - President and Chief Executive Officer

Bruce Swain - Chief Financial Officer, Executive Vice President

Analysts

Mark Hughes - SunTrust

Adam Klauber - William Blair

Operator

Good afternoon. My name is McKenzie and I will be your conference facilitator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Crawford & Company second quarter 2013 earnings release conference call. In conjunction with this call, a supplementary financial presentation is available on our website at www.crawfordandcompany.com under the Investor Relations section.

All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise. After the speakers' remarks there will be a question-and-answer session. Instructions will follow at that time. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, ladies and gentlemen, this conference is being recorded today, Monday, August 05, 2013.

Now I would like to introduce, Allen W. Nelson, Crawford & Company's General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer.

Allen Nelson

Thank you, McKenzie. Some of the matters to be discussed in this conference call and in the supplementary financial presentation may include forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. These statements may include but are not limited to statements regarding the funded status of our defined benefit pension plans, our expectations related to future revenues and expenses, our long-term liquidity requirements and our ability to pay dividends in the future. The company's actual results achieved in future quarters could differ materially from results that maybe implied by such forward-looking statements.

The company undertakes no obligation to publicly release revisions to any forward-looking statements made in this conference call to reflect events or circumstances occurring after the date of the call or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. In addition, you are reminded that operating results for any historical period are not necessarily indicative of results to be expected for any future period.

For a complete discussion regarding factors which could affect the company's financial performance, please refer to the company's Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2012 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, particularly the information under the headings, business risk factors, legal proceedings and management's discussion and analysis of financial condition and results of operations as well as any subsequent company's filings with the SEC.

This presentation also includes certain non-GAAP financial measures as defined under SEC rules. As required, a reconciliation is provided for those measures to the most directly comparable GAAP measures.

I would now like to introduce Mr. Jeffrey Bowman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Crawford & Company. Jeff, please begin our conference.

Jeffrey Bowman

Thanks, Allen. A warm welcome to our investors, clients, and employees this afternoon. I am Jeffrey Bowman, President and CEO of Crawford & Company. Joining me from the global executive management team this afternoon are Bruce Swain, our CFO and Allen Nelson, our General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer.

I will begin with some opening comments on our second quarter 2013 results. Bruce will then review the second quarter financials in more detail which will be followed a review of our business performance, comments on our strategic initiatives and conclude with our corporate focus and our increased global 2013 guidance.

We are pleased with our second quarter results as they reflect solid positive results in all segments and a better balance of contribution from our operations than we have seen for some time. In particular, Broadspire reported profitable results and an operating improvement even excluding a one-time benefit this quarter.

Our Americas segment reported increased case volume and a rebound in performance. As a result, our second quarter 2013 financial metrics showed very good gains and we have raised our expectations in certain aspects of our guidance for the year. Overall, revenues increased 2% over the second quarter of 2012. Consolidated operating earnings grew 27%. Our net income increased 63% quarter-over-quarter. We also announced today an increase in our dividend payments. We increased dividends on both our A and B shares by $0.01 to $0.05 and $0.04 respectively.

Within the Americas segment, our U.S. Property and casualty business benefited from an increase in our contractor connection operations and catastrophe revenues. We also saw an increasing claims in our Canadian market. I will report more details on these areas in the business unit review but the headline news is that our Canadian business unit has had its busiest month for claims received in July in history.

Our EMEA AP segment reported strong double-digit operating margin in the second quarter, but revenues reflected a lower level of activity in the UK and from handling claims related to flooding in Thailand than we saw year ago. While the Thailand project should remain meaningful for us during the second half of the year, related business activity has begun to taper as we wind up the handling of those claims.

In the Broadspire business, we saw great progress in the second quarter as operating earnings were positive. While approximately $3 million of this improvement in revenues and operating earnings was a one-time benefit, even excluding this item we saw a strong improvement in the operating results sequentially over the first quarter, which is an encouraging result. We remain optimistic that this segment will show meaningful operating improvement throughout the remainder of 2013.

During the 2013 second quarter, our Legal Settlement Administration segment remained engaged in responding to the Deepwater Horizon class action settlement. However in this quarter, we also saw acceleration in securing a number of other meaningful class action and bankruptcy matters. It is encouraging to see our non-Gulf activity increasing and this bodes well for the longer term outlook of this business. We expect operating activity in this segment to continue at a reduced rate as compared to 2012 levels but remain strong on a historical basis during the remainder of 2013.

I would also like to take this opportunity to mention that we have had a recent retirement of one of our directors. Last week, we made an announcement on the appointment of a new director. After 16 years, Jenner Wood has retired from the Crawford & Company Board effective July 9. On July 30, we announced the appointment of Roger Day.

Roger most recently served as an Executive Vice President for our ACE Overseas General Division, where he oversaw the multiline claims operations outside the USA. He is a highly accomplished business executive who has 40 years of global claims experience and will be a great insurance industry related expert for the corporation. We thank Jenner for his service to Crawford & Company and welcome Roger to the Board.

That concludes my initial remarks. Now I would discuss the business unit operations after Bruce has reviewed the financials. Over to you, Bruce.

Bruce Swain

Companywide revenues before reimbursements in the 2013 second quarter were $298.9 million, an increase of 2% from $293.8 million in the prior year second quarter. This growth was driven by improved results in our Americas segment and improvement in Broadspire's operating performance.

Our net income attributable to Crawford & Company was $17 million in the 2013 second quarter, up 63% over $10.4 million in the 2012 period. Second quarter 2013 diluted earnings per share were $0.31 for CRDA and $0.30 for CRDB, compared to earnings per share of $0.19 for CRDA and $0.18 for CRDB in the 2012 period.

Consolidated operating earnings, a non-GAAP financial measure, totaled $30.4 million for the 2013 second quarter, up 27% over $24 million reported in the 2012 second quarter. During the prior year second quarter, the company recorded a special charge of $1.6 million related to a project to outsource certain aspects of our U.S. technology infrastructure. There were no special charges during the 2013 second quarter. The company's selling, general and administrative expenses, or SG&A, totaled $58.4 million or 19.5% of revenues in the 2013 second quarter, down from $59.1 million or 20.1% of revenues in the prior year quarter.

Since 2011, the company has paid a higher dividend on its CRDA common stock than on its CRDB shares. This dividend differential can sometimes result in different earnings per share for each class of stock due to the two class method of computing EPS. References to EPS in this call would generally be only for CRDB as that is the more dilutive measure.

Revenues from the Americas segment totaled $82.6 million in the 2013 second quarter, up 7% over $77.6 million reported in last year's quarter. This increase was primarily due to growth in contractor connection and increasing claims activity in Canada and improvement in Latin America. Operating earnings in our Americas segment were $4.4 million in the 2012 second quarter or 5% of revenues. This is compared with operating earnings of $1.4 million or 2% of revenues in the prior year quarter.

Revenues generated by our catastrophe adjusters in the U.S. totaled $6.3 million in the 2013 second quarter increasing from $5.5 million in the 2012 quarter. The increase in revenues was due to higher case volume during the 2013 second quarter.

EMEA AP revenues increased 7% in the 2013 second quarter to $87.6 million from $93.8 million in the 2012 period. Our revenue decline reflects the wind down of catastrophe related cases in our Asia Pacific region, primarily in Thailand and lower case volumes in the UK. EMEA AP operating earnings decreased to $8.4 million in the 2013 quarter as compared to last year's second quarter operating earnings of $11.7 million. The operating margin in this segment was 10% in the 2013 quarter, decreasing from 13% in the 2012 second quarter.

Revenues from our Broadspire segment increased to $65.8 million in the 2013 second quarter, up 10% from $60 million in the prior year quarter. Broadspire recorded operating earnings of $4.4 million or 7% of revenues in the 2013 second quarter rebounding from an operating loss of $0.4 million in the 2012 second quarter. Included in Broadspire's revenues and operating earnings this quarter a one-time benefit of $3 million related to the recognition of previously deferred revenues for certain lifetime claim handling obligations the company has been relieved of in the future.

Legal settlement administration revenues comprised of class action and bankruptcy claims administration services as well as significant special project revenues totaled $63 million in the 2013 second quarter, increasing slightly from $62.5 million in the prior year quarter. Operating earnings totaled $16.5 million in the 2013 second quarter or 26% of revenues as compared to $15.8 million or 25% of revenues in the prior year.

Legal settlement administration continues to have a strong backlog of projects awarded, totaling $130 million at June 30, 2013, as compared to $73 million at June 30, 2012. Our cash and cash equivalent position at June 30, 2013 totaled $47.2 million, as compared to $71.2 million at December 31, 2012 and $45.7 million at June 30, 2012. Our investment in unbilled billed receivables has increased by $27.1 million during 2013, primarily as a result of growth in legal settlement administration in EMEA AP.

Our pension liabilities decreased by $10.9 million reflecting cash contributions during the 2013 year-to-date period. Our total debt has increased in 2013 by $7.5 million reflecting our usual heavy cash usage in the first part of the year to fund incentive compensation payments, retirement plan contributions and other costs, traditionally incurred at the start of the year.

Cash used in operations totaled $15.1 million for the 2013 year-to-date period compared to $26.4 million used in operations in the prior year period. The company's operating cash needs typically peak during the first half of the year and decline during the balance of the year. Free cash flow improved in the 2013 year-to-date period by $15.1 million from the 2012 period.

Back to you, Jeff.

Jeffrey Bowman

Thanks, Bruce. At the outset of my comments, I mentioned the overall balance of the results for the quarter as reported today. We are seeing the benefit of our business portfolio both across our business segments and within each segment itself. For example, is EMEA AP and legal settlement administration successfully broadened their new business pipeline to replace claims volume tied to two very large projects, Thailand in the first phase and Deepwater Horizon project in the second.

I am very encouraged as well by both a change of direction from the first quarter results and by incremental claims volumes in Canada and Latin America supporting the overall Americas results. Our consolidated revenue improvement for the quarter was driven by a 5% increase in cases over the second quarter of 2012 where we saw case increases in Americas, CEMEA and Broadspire casualty business.

Let me now turn to the performance of each of our business units. Starting with the Americas segment, which represented 28% of our consolidated revenue for the overall quarter. Overall performance in both revenue and operating earnings improved over the second quarter of 2012. Our contractor connection division grew 18% in assignments, and revenue grew 45% over the second quarter of 2012 with both current and new insurer's and consumer services clients being contracted.

We also hosted our 15th Annual Conference with more than 2,800 attendees in May. We continue to develop and implement private label consumer website capabilities for all consumer services and are excited about this product's future. Our Canadian division also benefited from the startup of the Canadian contractor connection service. We successfully implemented a number of new programs in the second quarter. The EMEA AP operations represented 29% of our consolidated revenues for the second quarter of 2013.

In the second quarter, our revenues declined in the Asia Pacific region, primarily due to the tapering of claims related to the Thailand floods which was partially offset by growth in our Australian business. This segment continues to perform solidly with margins approaching double digits even as we transition away from the very high level of claims, we have experienced in Thailand.

In our CEMEA operations in the second quarter, we saw a significant increase of 9% in higher frequency, low severity claims volumes in several countries. The CEMEA market is a mature, competitive market and we focused our revenue efforts on TPA activities including our international Broadspire operations and our specialty markets business. We are differentiating our product strategy by country and are very focused on continuing to improve the operating earnings and margins in this region.

In our UK operations, we have seen revenue and operating earnings decreased in the quarter due to a volume decrease in low value claims in the general property and casualty sector. This decline is attributed to many factors. As a result, we have the restructuring our UK operations to compensate for the decrease in volume. Our Broadspire operation which represented 22% of our consolidated revenues in the second quarter, reported an increase in revenue and a return to positive operating earnings as I mentioned earlier.

We are ahead of plan and at present we are seeing very strong client wins and a strong sales pipeline. Our retention rate for the quarter was excellent at 97%. Although there was a small reduction in workers' compensation claims, we saw our overall case volumes increased against the previous year's quarter. We believe strongly that Broadspire's solid market position, integrated service model and quality of service offer the market a truly competitive product and should be profitable as we move through 2013.

We see the increased use of medical management services as an opportunity growing out of increased medical cost in the industry. During the second quarter we were pleased with the improved execution of our sales and marketing in this segment. These new sales wins were very strong and we have a growing pipeline of business opportunities for the remaining quarters of the year.

On the technology front, we introduced our unique industry leading tool, The Command Center for the Broadspire operations in the second quarter. This is a web-based, mobile enabled tool that provides management with anytime and anywhere access to current data. This product enables us and allows our manages and adjusters to deliver a superlative high quality service through the monitoring of claims data by adjuster, branch, client and product line.

We continue to be very pleased with the legal settlement administration segment's revenue and operating earnings performance. LSA represented 21% of our second quarter revenue. The second quarter results was strong, as LSA has been heavily involved in continuing to provide administration services in the Deepwater Horizon class action settlement.

However, we were pleased that our revenue growth during the quarter was generated from a number of other significant class action and bankruptcy cases, providing more balance to our results. We continue to expect to see a solid performance from LSA for the coming year, although at a reduced level from 2012 as claims activity declines in the Deepwater Horizon class action. Our backlog at the end of 2013 second quarter was very strong at $130 million, up from $73 million last year.

That concludes my comments on our business segments. Let me now turn to our guidance and 2013 focus. After our second quarter, we are seeing positive trends in our business and remain optimistic about 2013. We are therefore, increasing certain elements of our full-year 2013 guidance as follows.

Consolidated revenues before reimbursements between $1.12 billion to $1.14 billion. Consolidated operating earnings between $95 million and $99 million. Consolidated cash provided by operating activities between $65 million and $70 million. Net income attributable to shareholders of Crawford & Company on a GAAP basis between $51.5 million and $54 million or $0.90 to $0.95 diluted earnings per CRDB share.

Our second quarter performance, overall, reflects improving results and trends, as I have discussed in earlier quarters. Our outlook remains upbeat and the balance of positive results on all our segments is encouraging. Our outlook, as always, weather driven claims volumes can provide both positive and negative swings in our operation and we continue to add to our global abilities to respond to catastrophes. An example is the response we have made in Canada where we have had the busiest month of July in the history of our Canadian operations.

Looking forward, our goals in 2013 remain in place, driving operating performance. As stated earlier, our second quarter 2013 results with more balance, consolidated operating performance as all of our segments produced positive earnings in the quarter. With continued focus on cost savings, technology and process efficiency improvements as well as significant client wins, we are driving our company to create long-term shareholder value and our results for the first half of the year are evidence of that strategy.

Strengthen our balance sheet. We remained disciplined in our approach to both our balance sheet and cash management. This is a fundamental strategy from which we will not waiver. We look at our conservative leverage as a competitive advantage in the marketplace, especially when compared to many of our privately owned peers who have high leveraged balance sheets.

Our proven approach to leverage ensures we have the financial flexibility to invest in market leading solutions for our clients and respond to opportunities as they emerge.

Improving total return to shareholders. Crawford's stronger balance sheet and improved cash generation capabilities support both growth of dividends and continued share repurchases which enhance shareholders' return. Crawford continued its quarterly dividend payments in the quarter, and increased the dividend declared by the board and now is (inaudible) to $0.05 per Crawford A share and $0.04 per Crawford B share.

In addition, we continue to seek stock repurchase opportunities under our June 2012 stock repurchase plan. With these actions and improved operating performance, we expect to continue to offer meaningful rewards to our shareholders. Crawford continues to make progress in 2013 and our worldwide management team is focused on core strategic and operational goals. Our second quarter results are evidence of the benefit of having diverse operations in a volatile market.

We expect to continue to expand market share, invest in technology to deliver operational efficiencies and capitalize on the client opportunities that present themselves in the remainder of 2013. Reflecting on our strong market position, our ongoing investments in the efficiency and innovative support services and the quality reputation of our business segments, we are optimistic about Crawford's opportunities for the balance of the year.

Thank you for your time and we look forward to your questions. Operator, will you please explain the process for asking questions to our audience.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

(Operator Instructions) Your first question comes from the line of Mark Hughes with SunTrust.

Mark Hughes - SunTrust

Nice performance across the board. Is there any common thread that runs through that? Some change in compensation structure? Or broader improvement in the economy? Is there any big picture change here?

Jeffrey Bowman

No, I don’t say it is a big picture change. We are adhering to our strategy that we have laid down in each of the operations. The growth of our operating performance is showing a turnaround and we expect that to follow on into the second half of the year. But a lot of it is around listening to our clients, improving on our service with our clients and ensuring that we are executing in a very efficient way. I think also, some of our technology improvements are beginning to really start to take effect as well, Mark.

Mark Hughes - SunTrust

Right. In the Broadspire business, you talked about some client wins. Are you taking share? Are there more RFPs out on the street?

Jeffrey Bowman

We are receiving more RFPs, and we are taking market share.

Mark Hughes - SunTrust

Right. In time past, I think you talked about having a good pipeline there but it's been hard to get sustained improvements. Do you think you would be able to sustain that this time?

Bruce Swain

Hi, Mark. This is Bruce. That's certainly what our plan is and what the business is driving towards. As Jeff has mentioned before, we are driving a sequential improvement in this business and that's certainly the plan for this year and looking forward.

Mark Hughes - SunTrust

Okay. In the EMEA AP business, how large was the contribution from cat in the quarter and maybe if not specifically, in historical terms, is this an average contribution from catastrophe revenue now that Thailand is running off? Is there still some to go before it settles down?

Jeffrey Bowman

The incident happened, as you are aware, back in 2011; we are still working on a number of significant large claims there. We expect this, as we said, taper off towards the end of this particular year. Over the past few years, we have had incidents occurring in a number of the countries in the Asia-Pacific region. So I think we are pretty solid for the balance of the year on the EMEA AP operations in Asia-Pacific.

Mark Hughes - SunTrust

Okay. In contractor connection, the things like there is more of a positive impact this quarter. Could you talk about one, the margin impact of that? If you can say just directionally how big it is now relative to the Americas operation and what drove the good performance? More wider distribution? More frequency? What's happening?

Jeffrey Bowman

I will take the strategic part of that and then Bruce will talk about the financials. We have been investing in contractor connection for a number of years. Over the past two or three years, we have developed private label consumer website capabilities. We have seen consumer growth. We have seen insurance market growth. Service quality is demanded in this particular product. We, as a corporation, have been investing in our infrastructure and our sales and marketing. So we are very bullish about the programs that we have got and the potential programs that we can build on for this operation.

We see this as one of our, if you like, hot properties. So I am very excited about what is going on with the contractor connection operation. Obviously, we have expanded it to Canada in the past two years and that’s going very well as well. We have a form of contractor connection in the United Kingdom and in Australia. So this is something that we have got going on a global basis.

Bruce Swain

Yes, so in terms of the margin contribution, Mark. We disclosed the revenues the contractor connection provides to our U.S. P&C and Americas business in the Q, but as with other aspects of our business, there aren’t segments we have been hesitant to put too much specificity on the margins or the earnings there. I would tell you though, just from a directional basis, the margins in that part of our business tend to be higher because it’s providing a network service, a network access model. We don’t have as much fixed cost in that sort of a model. So the contribution margins tend to be higher.

Mark Hughes - SunTrust

Right. Any directional thoughts about the growth in the underlying business within the legal settlement excluding the large project? How is that looking?

Bruce Swain

Yes, it just kind of continues on with that. So we have really been pleased with the legal settlement this year, in terms of the balance of where their business is coming from. We have been talking about the Deepwater Horizon project and the fact that that will be declining over time and we have seen that. But we have also seen an increase in non-Gulf related work that's kind of offset the expected decline that we are seeing in the Gulf related work. So it’s a good story for us and one that we are very pleased with.

Mark Hughes - SunTrust

Any way to characterize the non-Gulf related work? I know you talked in times past about the cyclical influences, after a recession you might see an uptick in class action work down the road or years later. Is it that or something else?

Jeffrey Bowman

I think it’s a number of things. I mean, obviously, our core operations we have been growing within the Garden City Group, in terms of both class action and bankruptcy. I think we are taking a significant amount of market share in both of those areas. We can continue to invest in those areas and are pleased with the significance we have got in, as the Gulf related business starts to decline then our overall business is achieving a better balance.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Adam Klauber with William Blair.

Adam Klauber - William Blair

Couple of different questions. Again, good news on Broadspire. You mentioned that you are seeing increasing expense in medical management. Could you give us a ballpark of the revenue growth, excluding the one-timer? What portion of that was medical management? Number one.

Number two. Would you say, the pipeline is as strong with medical going forward?

Bruce Swain

On the pipeline, we have significant bundled and unbundled opportunities that we are pursuing. We have one of the strongest pipelines we have had in, probably, the last few years. So we are seeing both unbundled medical and bundled medical as being very good opportunities for Broadspire.

Jeffrey Bowman

Yes, and I think, Adam, in terms of the revenue growth in the quarter, when you back out the one-time benefit that we saw, the majority of it was coming from the medical side, although we saw improvement in the in the underlying workers comp and liability claims business in the quarter, even when you back out the one-time benefit. And I think, a lot of that is reflective of the fact that so much more of our handling of workers comp case is dealing with medical side and it is just growing and significant influence in the overall handling of our comp plan.

Adam Klauber - William Blair

Right, okay. That’s really helpful. On the pension, you mentioned, I think, you reduced by $10 million. I would assume that the higher interest rates could help you out next year. What's your pension expense running this year? And do you have any sense, I know it's early, but would you expect to go down next year given what's happened with rates?

Bruce Swain

It should. We should see some benefit in expense and also in future cash contributions, going forward. Our pension liabilities on the balance sheet is just a roll forward from where we were at the end of the year. Just taking expense, less payments and we re-measure it at the end of 12/31. But if we were to re-measure today or through the end of the second quarter, we would have seen a pretty decent improvement.

Adam Klauber - William Blair

And can you tell us how much you are spending this year in pension expenses? Or what would pension expense would be this year?

Bruce Swain

Our pension expense this year is about $3.6 million.

Adam Klauber - William Blair

Okay, and then also, I know we have talked in the past, as rates go up, could eventually get away from the higher interest rates. How long do you tend to hold the money? Is it roughly seen as short-term rates, I take it?

Bruce Swain

It's short term rates. That’s correct.

Adam Klauber - William Blair

Okay. Legal settlement, I know you bought a smaller EPO or EOC business. Is that getting any traction?

Jeffrey Bowman

Yes, we have seen a couple of interesting cases that have come in through that particular division and they are working very closely with, obviously, the GCG organization to integrate and develop the relationships that the owner of the business had when we purchased them. We are quite pleased with the way that business is moving.

Adam Klauber - William Blair

Okay, and then also legal settlement. Again, very nice jump in the backlog. Would you say, again ballparking, more of the jump is class action or is it more of bankruptcy?

Bruce Swain

I think it would probably be more on the class action side. As we look at the backlog, it is a pretty meaningful backlog. We are moving to where less than half of it is related to Gulf related work and we are seeing a greater proportion of the backlog related to non-gulf work, which we think bodes well for the future.

Adam Klauber - William Blair

Okay, and then as far as the EMEA, did you get much business from floods? I know there were some pretty good floods in Europe. Did you get much business from that?

Jeffrey Bowman

It wasn’t a large volume but we had some large claims that came out of it. It wasn’t to the degree of, say, a several years ago when Prague had happened. It was less than that but it has had a little bump in our German operations, from that perspective.

Operator

(Operator Instructions) There are no further questions at this time. I would now like to turn the call back over to Mr. Allen for any closing remarks.

Allen Nelson

Thank you. Thank you, everyone, for your time and questions this afternoon. I would like to thank you, everyone, for joining us and hope you will have a good week, Thanks so much.

Operator

Thank you for participating in today's Crawford & Company conference call. This call will be available for replay beginning at 6:00 PM today through 11:59 PM on August 19, 2013. The conference ID number for the replay is 22871358. The number to dial for the replay is 1-855-859-2056 or 404-537-3406. Thank you. You may now disconnect.

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